In order to understand foaming behaviour of mixed protein/anionic polysaccharide solutions, we investigated the effect of β-lactoglobulin/pectin interaction in the bulk on β-lactoglobulin adsorption to the air-water interface. Adsorption kinetics were evaluated by following surface pressure development in time of several pure protein solutions and of mixed protein/polysaccharide solutions using an automated drop tensiometer (ADT). It was found that complexation of proteins with polysaccharides can slow down the kinetics of surface pressure development by at least a factor 100, and greatly diminish foam formation. In contrast, a five times acceleration in the increase of surface pressure was observed in other cases. We propose a mechanism for protein adsorption from mixed protein/polysaccharide solutions. Effects of ionic strength, pH and mixing ratio on this mechanism were studied for mixtures of β-lactoglobulin and low methoxyl pectin, whereas other proteins and anionic polysaccharides were used to explore the role of protein and polysaccharide charge density and distribution. Whereas the possibilities to change system parameters like ionic strength or pH are limited in food related systems, selecting a suitable combination of protein and polysaccharide offers a broad opportunity to control protein adsorption kinetics and with that foam formation. © 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.